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text 2019-10-27 01:08
Kindle Children Books Freebie Round Up
Ara the Star Engineer - Komal Singh,Ipek Konak
Ben's Adventures: Under the Big Top - Elizabeth Gerlach
Where Would Santa Go? - Julia Inserro,Natalie Merhab
Chicano JR: Mexican Adventure - Raul Jimenez,Felipe Vasconcelos
Creepy Pumpkin Patch - Brian Medrano,Kaustuv Brahmachari
Sticky the Elf - Samantha Des Jardins,Pablo Andreetta
Mary Bickerdyke: Civil War Heroine - Julie McDonald
The Squire of Low Degree - Edmund Spenser,Mary Macleod

The best in this good are Ara and Chicano Jr.  


Ara is about STEM and is girl centered.  It includes several women of color and is about problem solving.


Chicano Jr. actually is  dual language and tries into the current immigration debate.


Where Would Santa Go and Sticky the Elf are standard Christmas fair. The Santa book does get points for a blended and multi-racial family. The Creepy Pumpkin Patch is an good Halloween book.


Ben Adventures is an interesting book about triplets, though I found the artwork to be better than the story.


Civil War Heroine - is written so both adults and children can get something out of it. It is an interesting brief history of an interesting woman.


The Squire of Low Degree - good retelling of the fourth book of Spenser's Queene.  Would also work if you need a gloss.

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text 2019-09-10 15:51
Kindle Freebie Kid Book Round Up.
Yara's Tawari Tree - Yosef Lapid,Joanna Pasek
A Horse Story: Sami and Thomas meet Pascal - James McDonald
The Elf Who Couldn't Read - Sonica Ellis
Serafina Soars - Alma Hammond
Aqua Dog - Lisa Van de Wielen,Alison Mutton
Goodnight Portland - Morgan Guillaume

The best is Yara's Tawari Tree - which is  wonderful book about the importance of nature.


Serafina Soars  is also quite good, in particular with the ending bit that relates history.  Nice artwork.


Aqua Dog and the Elf Who Couldn't Read are both good, if a bit heavy on the lesson side.  The elf story also stresses the importance of learning.


Goodnight Portland is a fun parody with beautiful illustrations.


A Horse Story - the art isn't going to be for everyone, but I loved the fact that the author noted the amount of work that goes in caring for a horse.

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text 2019-09-01 16:24
Raven the Pirate Princess 1-6 + Princeless Short Stories
Princeless: Raven The Pirate Princess Book 1: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew (Princeless Raven Pirate Princess Tp) - Jeremy Whitley
Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 2: Free Women - Jeremy Whitley
Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 3: Two Boys, Five Girls, and Three Love Stories - Jeremy Whitley
Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 4: Two Ships in the Night - Jeremy Whitley,Xenia Pamfil
Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 5: Get Lost Together - Jeremy Whitley, Christine Hipp
Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 6 - Jeremy Whitley
Princeless Short Stories Volume 1 - Jeremy Whitley,Various

Raven the Pirate Princess is a spin-off of the Princeless series, and features Raven (duh) who was to inherit her father's pirate fleet until her jerky young brothers convinced her father to put her in a tower.  She is now determined to reclaim her rights.  To do so, she needs pirates for her ship.


The first volume is a set up, a gathering of the crew.  When Raven interviews pirates, it is a brilliant play on (1) minority girls who are hit on by white boys who claim to know about the culture and (2) men talking down to women. Eventually, she hires an all girl (lady) crew, largely made up of women who play a version of D&D.  Serious, read the first volume or that alone.


The next volumes focus on the quest and the various relationships among the crew.  At times, it felt a little too heavy on the personal matters, though in fairness a character does reference this.  There is an attempt at a romantic triangle, but thankfully, Whitely resolves it and it works.


The real selling point of the book is the diversity in terms of the crew.  The women are all different - there women of color (and various shades of color as well), there is a variety of interests (from fighting to science to writing) as well as a variety of skills (and each skill is valued), various body shapes, various religions, and various sexual  tastes (cis, bi, asexual).  It's quite lovely.  We are not given a Utopia, but a reality.  It makes for a good read.  I wish this had been around when I was in my teens or younger.


A quick note about the artwork -the artists change so the artwork went from a type that I loved to a type that I found so-so.  


The Princeless Short Story Volume isn't something you really need if you have read the other volumes.  The short stories aren't really connected to each other, so there is a scattershot feeling.  The best one is the one about B and her mother.  I did enjoy the artwork with the first short story the best.

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review 2019-09-01 06:11
A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole
A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3) - Alyssa Cole

Although you could potentially start the series with this book and manage okay, I'd recommend that folks at least read A Princess in Theory, which introduces Nya Jerami, the main character of this book, and shows readers the events that resulted in Nya's father being put in prison. I skipped A Duke by Default, Book 2, which, from what I could tell, resulted in me missing out on the introduction of Johan von Braustein, the hero of this book, but didn't otherwise interfere with my ability to understand what was going on.

Okay, so this book stars Nya, a shy royal who's trying to break away from her father's lingering toxic influence. Living in New York City for a while hasn't really accomplished much - she dated a bit but still feels like her same awkward self. She's now heading back to Thesolo for Ledi and Prince Thabiso's wedding, only to find herself face-to-face with Johan von Braustein, the sexy, womanizing step-prince of Liechtienbourg, the same guy that the character in the royalty-themed otome game she's currently playing in based on. As she spends time with him, she gradually realizes that the person the media sees is very different from the person he actually is in private.

I'm trying to review this after having finished it a couple months ago, and it's dawning on me how much of the story was focused on Nya and Johan just getting to know each other and become comfortable with each other, because I'm looking over my notes I can't figure out what else, if anything to add to my summary. I mean, Johan was also dealing with a Liechtienbourgian referendum to abolish the monarchy, and there was a fake engagement between him and Nya. And also some stuff related to Johan's suddenly strained relationship with his younger sibling, who was the reason why he constantly got himself into the tabloids - if they were speculating about him and who he was with, they weren't focused on Lukas.

I'm a big fan of "shy heroine" romances, as well as flirty heroes who are secretly vulnerable and insecure. This book definitely worked for me on that level. It also helped that some of my own geekiness overlapped with Nya's. I loved the brief reference to a game that sounded very much like Hatoful Boyfriend, the best joke dating sim in existence. And the game Nya was currently playing, One True Prince, had gameplay that was very similar to one of my top favorite otome games, Mystic Messenger. Both games have real-time gameplay that requires players to answer phone calls, texts, and chats from the game characters at various times throughout the day and night - which resulted in some misunderstandings on Johan's part, as he mistook her frequent phone checking for signs that she had a secret lover (meanwhile, I cringed in anticipated embarrassment at the thought of how Johan might react once he found out she was actually "dating" a fictional version of himself).

I preferred the romance aspects of this book more than in the first book in the series, although I wish there hadn't been quite as much sex (the sex at the opera just made me roll my eyes). Johan and Nya were usually a pretty sweet couple. The book's nonromantic stuff, like the referendum, was dealt with more happily and easily than I could quite bring myself to believe, however.

If there was anything that might have prompted me to quit reading, it was the linguistic aspects. Johan occasionally used Liechtienbourgian words and phrases. It was clear that Liechtienbourgian was at least somewhat related to French and German, and some words and phrases, when plugged into Google Translate, registered as Luxembourgish. However, it used French and German words in ways that didn't fit or make sense, seemed to be doing weird things with Luxembourgish (I don't know that particular language myself, so I'm basing this off of Google Translate), and wasn't even always internally consistent. Some examples:

On page 30, Johan sends this message to Lukas: "Ça va, petite bruder?"

So we have something that looks like a mishmash of French and German and treats what looks like the German word for brother as though it were a feminine word.

Also, there were a couple instances of a phrase that looked like it was supposed to mean "good day" and seemed to mean that in context as well. However, this phrase was inconsistently written:

"Gudde jour" (46)

"Gutten jour" (117)

Unless they looked similar but meant different things - but again, the context indicated that they both likely meant something like "good day." When I tried plugging them into Google Translate out of curiosity, I was amused to learn that, in Luxembourgish, the first phrase apparently meant something like "good news," while the second one meant something like "boys are on duty."

Thankfully, I eventually either adjusted to the linguistic stuff enough to ignore it, or Cole gradually cut back on it.

The book included some LGBTQIA+ rep I wasn't expecting but thought was nice to see in a mainstream romance: Johan was bisexual, something I caught hints of early on in the book and that was unambiguously confirmed later on, and another character was nonbinary. Johan's bisexuality was worked into the text so smoothly that I found myself wondering whether homophobia and biphobia just didn't exist in this world. The stuff with the nonbinary character was a lot more heavy-handed, like when books introduce asexual characters with a chunk of unnatural-sounding "Asexuality 101" dialogue.

All in all, this was a nice entry in the Reluctant Royals series. I liked Johan and Nya as a couple more than Thabiso and Ledi, although this book's story was a lot weaker than the overall story in A Princess in Theory. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series, but I still have zero desire to go back and read A Duke by Default. I'm guessing that Sanyu and Shanti will be getting a book soon. They seemed miserable in this book, so it'd be nice to see them either fix their marriage or end up happily married to other people, if that's what Cole has planned instead.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-08-19 02:23
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 1 by Satoru Yamaguchi, illustrations by Nami Hidaka, translated by Shirley Yeung
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 1 (light novel) - Satoru Yamaguchi,Nami Hidaka,Shirley Yeung

When Katarina is 8 years old, she bumps her head and suddenly recalls her past life as a 17-year-old girl in our world. What's more, she realizes that she is now living the life of the villainess in Fortune Lover, the otome game she was playing before she died. To her horror, she realizes that the Katarina of the game had absolutely no good endings. If the game's protagonist got a good ending, Katarina was usually exiled, and if she got a bad ending, Katarina was usually killed. Katarina would like very much not to die, so she comes up with new strategies to avert her bad endings each time she meets a person she recognizes from the game. What she doesn't realize is that she has managed to change the story enough that all these characters who were originally her enemies or neutral towards her now have begun to care for her.

If all of this sounds familiar, it's probably because I recently read and reviewed the first volume of the manga adaptation of this series. Now that I've read this light novel, I can say that the manga was an even better adaptation than I realized. It managed to cover the events of this entire first novel without feeling rushed or overly confusing.

It also neatly took care of one of this novel's biggest weaknesses: its repetition. This book really, really should have been written in the third person. Instead, the author opted to write parts of the story from Katarina's POV and then switch to the POV of (usually) whichever character from the game she'd just met, rehashing everything that just happened but with a few extra scenes, a more fleshed out backstory for the otome character, and all the subtext that Katarina missed or misinterpreted turned into text.

While I appreciated some of this - the bit where Alan and Jeord talked to each other was great, Jeord and Nicol's reactions in a few parts were suddenly much easier to understand, and a few details came up that were basically my romance catnip - it resulted in a lot of repeated dialogue. It got to the point where I was skimming for actual new and useful content. The manga cut out all of the otome game character POV sections, except for maybe a few lines here and there, and trusted readers to use the clues in characters' body language and dialogue to figure out what had been left out. For the most part, it did an excellent job.

Since I'd already read the manga, parts of this book felt like the "extended and bonus scenes" section of a DVD. Katarina's mother and father reconciled on-page (it was really pretty sweet), as opposed to the hasty and vague mention in the manga. And rather than having to guess that Mary

was in love with Katarina, I got confirmation that, yes, she absolutely was in love with her (and wanted to carry her off somewhere and marry her).

(spoiler show)

Sophia, on the other hand, was angling for a sister-in-law, which made sense considering her original storyline in the game.

I was surprised at how differently I felt about some of the characters in the manga vs. in the book. In the manga, Katarina was, hands down, my favorite character. In the book, my top favorites were Jeord (so amusingly frustrated with Katarina) and Mary (the scene where she verbally sparred with Jeord was fabulous). I also found that I liked Katarina's mother more in the manga.

I'm really looking forward to reading the next volume, which should feature all-new content for me. I'm just crossing my fingers that it's less repetitive (please, Yamaguchi, don't spend the entire book showing us a scene and then repeating the same scene from a different character's POV) and a lot fewer uses of the word "abode."

Translation-wise, it was smooth enough that I was able to finish the whole thing in less than 24 hours, but there were definitely some awkwardly phrased sentences and more typos than I expected.


Several illustrations, an afterword written by the author, and an interview/Q&A with the translator (in which even the translator admitted "the repetition really does have a tendency to drive me insane" (150) - ouch).




I probably shouldn't give this such a high rating considering how bad the writing was, but since it hooked me enough that I didn't want to stop reading, even though I technically already knew most of what was going to happen, eh, 4 stars it is. Consider it 4 "forgiving of enormous light novel flaws" stars.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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